Pastor’s Message

Center Church of South Hadley, MA

Rev. Lori J. Souder

Engaged in the works of God, we are adventurous. Some assume New England UCC Congregations are too reserved. Not ours. We seek to be transparent. We seek to be justice driven. We seek to open our arms to you, even if we do not know you. No matter where you are on life’s journey you are welcome here.

We have followers of Jesus and doubters of Jesus. Where do you stand?  We invite you to sit and stand with us, followers, doubters and misfits. Somehow we can assist each other in defining who God is calling us to be. Somehow we can define each other in that there is worthiness in all.  Somehow we will create a realm of life/God where all are welcome, affirmed and loved.

If you wish to sojourn with us, you are welcome. Each one, young or old, gay or straight, single or married, ill or not , with a job or not, is affirmed because we understand God’s love is real and strong and eternal. Because we are all on the journey to understand God.

About Reverend Lori Souder

Lori’s not your typical minister, whatever that means. Lori is unapologetically inspired by Jesus and what his teachings can do for us all, while rarely hesitates to be bold in taking risks for justice, truth and humor.

Lori is fed by her runs and walks on the campus of Mount Holyoke, bike rides (preferably on level terrain), and lifting weights. Often Mac – shot for Malcolm, her dog, provides sermon inspiration. While declaring herself not a great cook, she appreciates good food and table fellowship.

Raised in Michigan, graduated from Mount Holyoke College and Harvard Divinity School, Lori was called to congregations in Southern California, Ohio, Arizona, and has been here at Center Church since 2008..

Beyond the congregation, Lori has served in leadership roles in the National United Church of Christ and in local Associations. Lori is committed to creating an inclusive affirming church. Gun safety, LGBTQ issues, crafting worship and educational opportunity for all ages with people who have different mental and physical abilities, and recycling are priorities. She sits on the Girls’ Inc Board of Holyoke and is involved in the Granby, Holyoke, and South Hadley Ecumenical Group.

She’s proud of her four young adult children and counts on them for levity and to center herself.

Relentlessly optimistic, Lori is grateful for the top notch and fun staff at Center Church and the congregation that is willing to provoke and comfort, laugh and cry together.


Pastor’s Message

Resiliency. We gave it some thought in worship. So where are you now with this resiliency? Are you feeling resilient, able to adapt to a new form without breaking?

Most days I am Resilient Woman, but there are some days I am short (well, most days I am, short). If resiliency is trusting there is another way, then what is the other way?

So glad you asked! It is following the teachings of Jesus…so simple, yet so demanding if we take them seriously. Here are some of them:

Love your neighbor as yourself (how much do you love yourself?)

Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

Bring good news to the poor (and that includes family.)

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (what else do any of us need than comfort during times of grief?)

They will beat their swords into plowshares (and recycle their trash.)

We can be resilient when we gather as a community of faith. So join us on Sundays, in mission work, in team meetings and fellowship so that we learn to stretch into the arms of that brother and prophet, teacher and deliverer, Jesus.

Wild Blessings, Lori